I push open the exterior door to the school, step out into the fresh air and remove my mask. Loaded with my lunch bag, school bag, and usually at lease one additional bag (of books), I walk the 100 feet from my school building to my house. Crossing 27th Street, I attempt to shed my school worries and distractions, and put them on hold for the next 15 hours.
beep, beep, beep, beep, beeeep…I enter the door code and step into the respite of home. I find Josie asleep in the laundry room. She begins to stretch and roll on her back as a hello and request for a belly rub. My bags make their way to their assigned spots, often never opened and just picked up again the next morning.
I brew my afternoon cup of coffee, change into sweat pants, and give myself an hour to reset. Settling in to my spot on the couch, I catch up on the days events on social media, read the next few chapters in my current book, or write. Josie comes out of her lair and hops up next to me. She know our routine. This sacred hour rivals my morning time. I need it. I need this buffer between my school life and home life.
When the hour is up, I’m ready to tackle the next parts of the day. Usually a walk or some form of movement, working on dinner, and other household responsibilities.
What is your after school routine? How do you reset after a day of work?
little man in his khakis and two toned blue Columbia fleece jacket
stubby legs running, full of energy
tuft of blondish red waves of hair
crossing his arms emphatically
having a conversion with made up words
sneaking into the kitchen to investigate
What does a sheep say? “BAAAA”
What does a cat say? softly with a shy nod of his head “meeooow”
“Doggie” over and over
hugs and pats for Josie
grabbing a blanket to cover Josie “night night”
sending the cars flying on the laminate floor
attaching the trains and pushing them over the tracks
still loves the Baby Colors book; now knows many of the objects: ball, baby, doggie
finding the lids that match the toy tubs
sitting in the tub of books
pushing the tub around the house
fell down; brief tears and crying; quickly soothed
big hugs for us
wrestling him into his PJs
playing “boop” with the stuffed hippo; cracking up laughing
My nephew’s son, Hudson, is 20 months old. Their family relocated to our town when Hudson was 2 months old. It has been a joy to watch him grow and change. Sometimes I feel like as a parent I was not able to enjoy these stages (and I definitely didn’t write about them to keep them as a lasting memory). With Hudson, it’s been different. I am able to fully focus on him when I am with him. I can appreciate and notice the ways he is growing and learning. With COVID, we haven’t seen them as much, but when we do, I cherish our time together…I want to bottle up the moment.
The snow started to fall at about 5:00 pm. The giddy anticipation of a snow day was in the air. Even though in modern times a snow day equals elearning, my body is conditioned to wish for that text that says school is closed. I guess it’s like muscle memory…the snow starts to fall and the longing begins.
Later that evening, when my body is usually winding down for bed, my husband asks, “Want to go for a night walk?” My first response is, “It’s too late,” but the snow begs for us to tread through it. Our footprints, the first to break the surface of the pristine, white surface.
Josie senses the excitement coming as we layer up and put on our boots. She is twirling in circles in the entryway, almost 12 years old, but acting like a puppy. These are her favorite adventures. Unleashed and running, snout buried in the fresh powder.
As we leave the house, the calm settles over us. The only sound is the crunching of the snow beneath our boots. The only light is the bright reflection of the ground that leaves a pinkish hue in the sky. We tromp and tread and plod through the snowfield behind our house. Breathing in the beauty of a winter wonderland, thankful I ignored the thought of just staying in.
Part of my blessed block is the route I take Josie on for our daily walks. The sidewalk that surrounds a piece of my neighborhood makes a perfect 1/4 mile rectangle. Just the right amount of space for a 15 minute jaunt to get some steps after dinner and give the dog some space to sniff, relieve herself, and stretch her rigid, aging legs. I try appreciate my surrounds every time we go on our outing.
Part of my block contains a piece of history. A National Historic Landmark. A work of design that people travel across many states to stand and see and photograph. I get to admire this structure everyday, in different shades of sunlight, moonlight, and cloud formation. With a spire that reaches to the heavens, it is breathtaking. I remind myself, Don’t take this view for granted. I often take pictures of this architecture to capture it’s beauty with the setting sun as a backdrop. But then I remember, I’ll get to see it again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and the next tomorrow. It is a consistent piece of my daily walk, one I feel blessed to view everyday.
She circles once, twice, three times and then plops down in the crook made by the angle of my legs. She draws in a deep breath and lets out a long exhale. It’s time for bed. After a long day, this routine prepares me for sleep. For some people it’s white noise, or lavender vapor billowing from a diffuser, or meditation. For me, it’s the feeling of Josie’s back pressed against mine. Her breath regulates mine. It lowers my blood pressure, slows down the thoughts in my mind. Despite the crowded space of two adults and a lab in a queen sized bed, her presence brings me comfort and peace.
As of late, Josie’s been moving more slowly in the evenings. She sheepishly slips into the laundry room at bedtime to sleep on her dog bed. My heart is sad. The bed feels strangely empty without our 70 pound lab to fill the open spaces. Is she preparing me for the inevitable? She is almost 11. I don’t even want to thing about it.
Last night as I was preparing to go up for bed, she was standing by the stairs. Come on, Josie, bedtime. She followed me up. My heart was happy. I will savor the times I have left with the bed hog.